To the “healthy baby isn’t enough” hypocrites

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Whose birth experience counts?

Many midwives would answer everyone’s because a “healthy baby isn’t enough.”

They would agree with this mother mourning her lost birth experience:

I don’t have to feign gratitude, because I lost something that was important to me…

I don’t have to be thankful just because things didn’t end tragically.

I’m allowed to grieve what I lost, even now, because it was important to me, and I lost it.

She had wanted a homebirth:

Whose birth experience counts?

His birth was supposed to be peaceful, swimming into the world in our kitchen, surrounded by his family, welcomed with cake and champagne. He was supposed to come out easily and heal me from the trauma of my previous labor and dystocia. His birth was supposed to be a lot of things that it was not.

I do not want to hear, “Well, you’re lucky he’s healthy,” ever…

Those midwives would encourage Edelman to grieve for her birth as she has done because a desired birth experience reflects a woman’s deepest needs and fears. Providing that experience — an empowering experience that allows her to be in control of her body and feel that her providers have really listened to her —is the ethical obligation of every midwife … UNLESS, of course, she wants a C-section. Then she should be ignored.

According to the BBC:

Women at 75% of UK maternity units are being denied their right to choose a Caesarean, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has been told.

NICE guidance says women should be allowed to opt for a planned Caesarean even if it is not for medical reasons.

In this midwife led system, providers are denying women who choose C-sections the birth experience they request.

Birthrights, the human rights in childbirth charity, used a Freedom of Information request to ask 153 trusts providing maternity care how they applied the guidance.

Of the 146 that replied:

26% fully complied with the guidelines
47% partially complied
15% refused maternal requests outright
12% did not seem to have a clear position

This is in direct violation of official policy:

Under the guidelines, women requesting a Caesarean with no other medical reason “should be offered appropriate discussion and support – but ultimately, if they are making an informed choice, a Caesarean should be offered”.

But in many cases the denial occurs without listening to the mother’s request.

[Birthrights] said it had been told trusts had even been telling women they would not be allowed to elect a Caesarean, either when they had been being booked on to maternity care or in a letter before they had even been spoken to.

And even when the request is considered, these women have to jump through hoops that aren’t required for anyone else:

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives said: “Women must be given the information to explore their views and feelings about Caesarean birth, to enable them to come to an informed decision about their preferred type of birth.

“This information should reflect the individual woman’s current and previous medical, obstetric and psychological history.”

Are women required to “explore their views and feelings about vaginal birth” before being allowed to have one? I doubt it. Are women required to “explore their views and feelings about homebirth” before being allowed to have one? I’ll bet it never comes up.

Apparently, for women who want a maternal request C-section a healthy baby is supposed to be more than enough.

Why the difference? Because idea that a “healthy baby isn’t enough” is a ploy designed by midwives to wrest market share from obstetricians. Since obstetricians place the highest value on a healthy mother and a healthy baby, midwives encourage women to place the highest value on a fulfilling birth experience … but ONLY if that birth experience fulfills midwives’ needs as well.

Does your ideal birth experience include a vaginal birth? That’s fine; midwives will keep those evil obstetricians — who think a health baby is enough — away so they can’t diagnose any complications that might interfere with your experience.

Does your ideal birth experience include a homebirth? That’s the best! It allows midwives full autonomy and requires more midwives. The midwife/patient ratio at homebirth is supposed to be 2:1 instead of 1:many at hospitals or midwifery led units. And not only will no midwife question whether you are making an informed choice, they’ll happily ignore any and all risk factors that make homebirth a dangerous idea.

Does your ideal birth experience include an epidural? So sad. Midwives will try to convince you that unmedicated birth is better and more empowering. And if that doesn’t work, they will drag their feet in ordering the epidural until it is too late for you to get it.

Does your ideal birth experience include a maternal request C-section? Too bad for you! C-sections don’t do a damn thing for midwives’ need for autonomy and control. Therefore you can’t have one. Shut up and be glad you got a vaginal birth that you didn’t want!

In other words, the “healthy baby isn’t enough” crowd is a bunch of hypocrites. It isn’t your birth experience that matters; it’s theirs.

Let’s stop that hypocrisy. Let’s agree:

Her baby, her body, HER choice and none of the midwife’s business.

Because a woman who wants a maternal request C-section should be treated exactly the same as a woman who wants a homebirth — with respect. Every woman’s birth experience counts!

  • Shawna Mathieu

    I’ve noticed more and more that it seems the more “choices” women get in society, and the bigger deal that’s made about HAVING those choices, the more it’s made clear to them that there is one, and only one, “right” choice for these situations.

    If you make that choice, you’re a smart, empowered, strong, confident woman.

    If you don’t make THAT EXACT choice, you’re a poor brainwashed mindless weak child and
    A. You don’t know any better b/c patriarchy so someone will gently, lovingly, make the choice FOR you
    B. You’re just being selfish and can’t be trusted to make the right choice for society

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    Thankfully, we live in an age where there are plenty of ‘Children of Narcissists’ support groups for this woman’s offspring so they can move on and heal from their childhood.

  • Piana

    I had a vaginal (hospital) birth when I was a young and fit 35 year old, and it was messy, painful (despite the epidural), tore me apart, caused a fever spike and took me something like 6 months to recover from. At least the baby was healthy. My scheduled c-sections in my early 40s, when I was much less fit and young, totally rocked. It was like the spa, literally. There was even a foot massage. No pain, a crowd of lovely medical staff, happy plump babies. I walked out of the hospital and recovered within days (don’t tell my insurance that gave me an extra 2 weeks to recover from the c-secs). I remember the contractions from my first birth – I guess my c-sections healed me from that awful pain!

    • Cristina B

      Same! I was elated when I found out my 2nd was breech!

  • Offhand thought — why don’t doctors and midwives work together? Midwife provides emotional support, something many women apparently would like. Doctor does the medical end. Win-win?

    • Azuran

      Not when the (CPM) midwives have no respect for OBs, and openly oppose medical interventions.
      Why would a Doctor want to work with someone who will undermine their expertise and put their patient at risk? That’s like expecting Doctors to do joint consults with naturopath or a reiki master.

    • MWguest

      There are countries where midwives and physicians work together. There are US-based practices where this happens, too, but slightly differently, as the role of the midwife (CNM) is different than in countries where midwives are more common.

      The midwife role in countries where births are attended by midwives often includes the nursing role. In the US, a nurse-midwife (despite ‘nurse’ being in the title) takes on the role of provider.

      The model has not been developed in the US for midwife-physician collaboration – right now we have physician-RN collaboration for each mother in labor. When we add CNMs, it becomes physician-CNM-RN collaboration – and makes it less efficient.

      CPMs want to work completely outside of the medical system entirely (by design: they say they’re experts in out-of-hospital birth) and because of this collaboration with needed medical providers is challenging (and unsafe).

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      Because even in some countries where midwife-led birth and “normal” birth are seen as the default, midwives WAY overstep their areas and refuse to refuse to transfer patients to consultants(OBs) when the pregnancy or delivery should be taken over by a doctor. This has led to the deaths of mothers and babies. and sometimes the midwives responsible practice for YEARS after the deaths before they are finally struck off(not allowed to practice):

      https://news.sky.com/story/morecambe-bay-scandal-midwives-watchdog-ignored-police-concerns-11374469

      ” A review into the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) handling of the Morecambe Bay scandal – where failures were linked to at least 12 deaths of mothers and babies at Furness General Hospital (FGH) between 2004 and 2012 – revealed how the NMC failed to act on police information for almost two years.”

      There’s also the apparent tendency in some places for midwives to decide whether one gets pain relief in labor or not:
      https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/jul/12/pregnancy-pain-natural-birth-yoga

      This all happened in the UK, which has much high education requirements for midwives, the US has some of the most lax requirements for midwife education of any industrialized nation.

      In the US depending on which state you are in, a home birth midwife can practice with little or no training and no real knowledge of medical issues that can rule out home/midwife delivery: http://www.utahbirthcenter.com/new-page/
      IF they screw up the delivery, (out of hospital) US midwifes mostly don’t have to have to carry insurance so the parents are SOL.

  • mostlyclueless

    Speaking from experience: one can know that it’s stupid to feel bad about a birth experience 4 years later, and still feel bad about that birth experience 4 years later.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Ayup. Same here, x3.
      It’s quite ridiculous. I know that my kids’ births went quite well. Minimal, if aggravating, complications for me, and none for them, and nice, safe C-sections with a minimum of drama. Looking back coolly, I don’t know what *I* could have changed about their births that would have meant a better experience. But I hate even thinking back on their births just the same, and hate that those are my first memories and associations with my kids. Rational? No. But there ya have it.
      Tried counseling, found it damn near worthless because of a combination of the counselor (“natural birth is the ideal, of course” she said at our first freaking appointment) and my family’s issues (enough to fill a magazine, but I wanted to focus mostly on PPD and birth feelings, and she wanted to ramble here, there, and everywhere else). I don’t really know what the answer is. I know in my head that I’m so privileged to even have this issue, yet I can’t reconcile it in my heart. Ugh.

      • Dinolindor

        Please ignore if this is overstepping, but have you tried other counselors/therapists? I think it sometimes can take a couple different tries before finding the right fit in terms of personality. My experience of therapy involves a lot of me talking, with my therapist stepping in once in awhile to help me clarify or see a new perspective.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I haven’t. Probably not a bad idea at all, but the sheer complexity of the whole business is too overwhelming right now. Thanks for caring; I really do appreciate it. 🙂

          • Anion

            This is late, but I wanted to ditto Dinolindor. I had PPD after my first, and my doc sent me to a therapist. I was unenthused, because I’d been to one before and hadn’t found it especially helpful, but the lady he sent me to was amazing. I felt so much better after just the first visit; it was like night and day (she picked up on something I said offhandedly, and dove right into it, and it was like she’d unlocked a door to relief).

            The right therapist really can make an enormous difference. It’s worth another try.

            BTW, stop thinking that you don’t deserve to feel bad because you’re “so privileged to even have this issue.” You have the right to feel bad about things that happened to you, even if others are worse off than you. You are a person with feelings and that is okay. You don’t owe anyone hiding or discounting your feelings; you don’t have to feel guilty about them or like you don’t deserve them because of X or Y. This is your life. You have every right to feel things about it, and no one else has the right to tell you that you’re wrong to do so. Suffering or ignoring your own pain does not help those less “privileged” than you…so don’t try to do it. Take care of yourself. You deserve it, honestly you do. {{hug}}

          • Who?

            Upvote!

            KoTB (and Anion, and everyone actually) be kind to yourselves.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Thanks; I really appreciate your kind words. 🙂

    • carovee

      Yup. I’m still pissed I chose to labor so long without an epidural and when I finally did get it, the damn thing fell out right when I needed it most!

  • Zornorph

    Good God, I really wanted to slap that woman. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but I do.

    • Spamamander ctrl-alt-right-del

      Oh, I did too. Very much so.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      I really want to slap her. I have lost 2 pregnancies and tried for years before my daughter was born. I understand being unhappy about how your child’s birth went, my daughters birth went from pretty calm and uneventful to “she’s in distress, there’s meconium we need to get her out quick, why isn’t she moving or crying” . It was physically painful and somewhat terrifying, which colors my feelings about the EVENT (NOT the child!) even today. But using the word grieve like she does really bugs me…

    • Mari

      Until I reached the end of the paragraph I honestly assumed that what she had lost was the baby.

      Not some ridiculous fantasy of an experience that she was never going to get in the first place. This woman had shoulder dystocia in her first birth? Is she deranged?

      • PeggySue

        I wondered why she was so optimistic about a second birth after a dystocia. And I wondered what eedjit encouraged her to plan for a home birth after a dystocia. I mean, I know every birth and baby is different, but…

  • Anna

    Okay I just read the article. Yeah I dont blame her completely, but she can chew on a fat dick. Thank Goodness she didnt have a c-section! Imagine the poor kid who’d have to live with being that much of a let down and the poor counsellors whod have to listen to her “mourn”. I hope I was never even a quarter that bad.

    • Chi

      I just can’t get over the sheer hubris of her EXPECTING this tiny (well not so tiny at 10lbs) innocent baby to shoulder the burden of ‘healing’ her from a previous traumatic labor.

      Kids are NOT fucking props. You don’t have another one as a ‘do-over’ to ‘heal’ from whatever bullshit experience you ascribe to the previous kid (or kids). (Cos then you’re getting in Modern Alternative Mama territory)

      Pregnancy and labor are fucking shitshows. If you don’t realize that it can go sideways at any fucking time, you have NO business trying to have a kid that is just going to be a casualty of your misguided ideals.

      • Amazed

        Honestly, such women sound like Amazing Niece when I am angry with her. “Auntie, I love you! Auntie, I’m your mama!” It’s nice to be someone’s mama for a while… when you’re two. Then, you can leave your “kid” behind whenever you feel like it. When you’re their real mom? Not so much. And yes, AN did expect of me to take care of her, even when I was angry and her “baby”. Grown-up moms? They should never.

        I may be overly harsh but I think they need help. Professional help, not more kids to fill whatever voids they feel.

      • Anna

        A friend of mine NAILED it talking about a woman we both know who is planning a freebirth. “She has one kid and 3 births she has to raise”.

        • Who?

          Ouch.

          Harsh but fair, I’m sure.

      • Yeah this: ” He was supposed to come out easily and heal me from the trauma-” was the last straw for me. You do NOT bring a child into the world with the expectation that they will do ANYTHING for you. Infants don’t owe you shit. If you did a really good job, you’ll get the pleasure of their company as peers when they’re adults, and maybe they’ll look after you in your old age, but FFS. An infant’s only JOB is to figure out that those feet he’s licking are his own, ya know?

  • Anna

    The Age in Australia had an article on Yael Stone (Morello from OITNB) who tried for a homebirth, ended up transferring after 18hours and having a c-sect. Stone felt the usual feelings of failure you feel after youve been set up to believe birth is something you can control if you do all the right things, hire the right midwife etc. I dont think women can go without blame, but I do also think that women are not just selfish narcissists for buying into it. NCB promises if you do the yoga and hire the doula and spurn the scans you will get your beautiful “healing” birth and the only stories they allow to circulate are the ones where that worked out. Women come out of actually pretty decent experiences believing they experienced terrible trauma that was all a resuly of cascade of interventions and the overwhelming cultural message is that a medicalsed birth is a failure. You cant open a paper or scroll through your feed without seeing another article reminding you your children will be stupid, obese, diabetic, allergic asthmatic losers if they are born by c-sec.Women that choose homebirth believe they are covering both bases – better for them and safer for baby. We have the hard sell that natural is best coming even from the mainstream. It infuriates me now to read these sorts of stories but I had to experience the worst possible outcome to be shaken out of my delusion. Anyway this wall of text aside the article was brill!

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      But it’s magical thinking, it’s what I saw my kid do when she was in early grade school. “If I wear this, and I have my special pencil , and I sit in the front seat on the school bus, then I will get picked for the school play” or whatever. Life is somewhat terrifying because you can do everything “right” and still it all goes to shit. Life is random and the universe doesn’t care about your plans. You try to get your crap together and life your best life and be a good human, but life is not and never was “fair”.

      And I can not understand anyone thinking a homebirth(which in the U.S. means birth without a doctor) is safer. And I don’t understand people who don’t get that (even if the diabetic, down a few IQ points, etc WAS true) the lack of Csection may very well mean that instead of those things their kid would be dead or severely brain damaged.

      They remind me of the people who seem to think (due to delusions about vaxing) that their kid is better off dead from a disease than autistic.

      Full disclosure my brother(age 52) is alive and not brain damaged because of a C-section. My autistic grand nephew is an awesome kid who just started 1st grade.

      • Daleth

        And I can not understand anyone thinking a homebirth(which in the U.S. means birth without a doctor) is safer.

        Seriously! Common sense much? They all admit that the hospital is where they would go if anything went wrong. “We’re only 15 minutes from the hospital and the midwife will tell us if we need to transfer,” etc. Knowing that, how can they possibly think it could be safer to give birth far from the hospital–far from doctors, neonatal resuscitation, blood transfusions, operating rooms, etc.–rather than IN the hospital?

        • space_upstairs

          I think they assume that something is more likely to go wrong in the first place if they are in the hospital, because they will do something high-tech before it’s needed and that will send everything else sideways. That’s what I understand the notion of the “cascade of interventions” to mean. So they see giving birth in the hospital as like getting run over by an ambulance: you can get treated fast, but if not for the collision with the ambulance you would not need treatment in the first place.

          • Anna

            Thats about right. Keep in mind in most countries homebirth midwives have degrees and they have “studies” that look pretty legit to the untrained eye telling you if you go to hospital you have a high chance of intervention (terrible bad intervention) and a tiny chance of something going wrong at home, and yes they tell you because you have one on one care and midwives have “ways of knowing” they’ll be able to transfer you in time. They have their studies and research that shows CTG has no benefit – which again looks legit to a layperson. I went into homebirth believing the chance of a bad complication (abruption, rupture, cord prolapse, etc) was around 1 in 10,000 and these things were barely discussed. They have endless positove stories about homebirth and endless negative stories about hospital. Now that I have learnt to read statistics and studies a bit better Im flaming angry at how they lie and manipulate but I’ve still had midwives trying to tell me healthy full term babies regularly die in labour in hospital. I caught a midwifery lecturer from my local uni flat out lying about results of a study, when I called her on it and pointed out her lies I was deleted and blocked. I know I go on and on but Im honestly not just trying to shift blame, I deserve my share of the blame for falling for it and not thinking logically. Unfortunately youre easier fooled too when you want something to be true. There is definitely an overlap between homebirth and antivax but I dont believe any but a few totally rabid extremists go into it believing better dead than c-sec. They dont see any risk in homebirth. They absolutely believe that it is as safe as hospital.

          • space_upstairs

            Totally understandable. Even in my location, distanced from the epicenter of all this crunchy culture and hyper-parenting and so on, a lot of people I know are really into the natural-is-better thing in parenting and other realms given so much widespread official information on the matters. I had a conversation recently with a tai chi training partner about baby stuff, and she was really into breastfeeding and co-sleeping (which she did with her now-toddler). She asserted that co-sleeping was not dangerous, and that if you have trouble filling your kid’s stomach while breastfeeding, you’re doing it wrong and can figure out how to do it right eventually, it’s never that you’re not making enough milk or colostrum. And shortly after that, there was a conversation with my husband and myself and a colleague, where the colleague was talking about how he heard GMOs are bad for you, and my husband and I told him that the better studies say they’re not. Surely this colleague had no way of knowing that the better studies were even out there before talking to us, just as the training partner had apparently never thought to consider what dissenters had to say about breastfeeding and co-sleeping especially given that they worked out for her.

            People have their own personal and cultural reasons for being drawn to the information and perspectives that they’re drawn to. I was drawn to the pro-GMO case by knowing other colleagues who were into the Skeptical community (and liking soy and corn products personally and finding it hard to fancy any association between those and any problems in my life), and to the case against “natural” parenting by having thought for a long time that I would not be able to psychologically handle raising kids if I had to do everything myself the hard way as is currently fashionable. No enlightenment or anything of the sort involved: I just stumbled upon this path early on because of who I was and with whom I associated. So surely you had your personal and cultural reasons for believing what you did until some hard knocks made you question it. No shame in that. You’re lucky you were able to find another path before it was too late.

        • Madtowngirl

          And 15 minutes from the hospital is still too far, imo. When things go wrong during birth, they go wrong so fast. That’s 15 minutes of *driving time* to the hospital. That doesn’t include bad traffic, bad weather, triage and admitting time, the nurses and doctors figuring out wtf is wrong time, IV placing time….. I just cannot fathom how “the hospital is only XX minutes away” is supposed to be reassuring.

          • Anna

            I know a woman who was 3mins from hospital, and it was still too late by the time they got her baby out. She lost the baby and her uterus. Then the midwives sold her out saying she refused to transfer.

          • Madtowngirl

            That’s horrific. I am so sorry for that woman.

  • MainlyMom

    Did you guys see the ongoing piece USA today is doing about maternal morbidity? I only looked at a few, and what do you know, the number two story is either a homebirth or birth center birth. https://www.usatoday.com/deadly-deliveries/videos/

  • Ughhh, I was a lot more sympathetic to the post Dr. Tuteur quoted before I read the whole thing. Her son is FOUR. Time to get over the not-homebirth. I didn’t get an outdoor wedding because it rained; should I have spent my honeymoon sobbing because everything wasn’t perfect, never mind the marvelous marriage I’ve enjoyed nearly seven years now?

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      My SIL was supposed to get married in a wonderful location in may. It rained and was 40 degrees.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Fahrenheit or Celsius (oddly enough, either way makes for a non-wonderful weather day)

      • FallsAngel

        My daughter lucked out, September 30 in the Colorado mountains. It was sunny and warm (enough) outdoors. It did snow that night, though!

  • kilda

    >>He was supposed to come out easily and heal me from the trauma of my previous labor and dystocia. His birth was supposed to be a lot of things that it was not.
    This part especially infuriates me. It’s not your baby’s job to heal you of past traumas. He’s a person, not a do-over for your past disappointments. If you want healing for trauma, go to therapy.
    If anyone has a right to complain here it should be the baby, saying “my mom was supposed to help me get out into the world alive and unharmed. My birth was supposed to be a lot of things that it was not.”

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      It’s not my business but honestly people like this worry me. Someone who feels a newborn or that newborn’s birth can “heal” them of past issues is putting a whole lot of unrealistic expectations on a completely helpless, defendant infant. It’s also having a baby for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the new person they just created….

      • Oops, my reply to Kilda was meant to go to you. Yeah, I don’t approve of using one’s children to work out issues.

      • Cat

        My mother has always said that she had children because she wanted someone to understand her (because she lost a parent quite young and she was lonely in her marriage). It’s not the worst or most selfish reason I’ve ever heard for having kids but, now I’m a mother myself, I can see that she was always going to be let down and why our relationship is difficult sometimes. You can’t expect your children to provide you with unconditional love and understanding. That’s not their job.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          Yup. My mother had kids because it was expected in the 50’s and 60’s and because she was trying to fix what was wrong with her marriage. She tried to be a good mother but she constantly talked about what a disappointment we were. I had a mostly happy childhood but the constant reminders of how I failed at being a good daughter are wearing…

        • seenthelight

          That’s about exactly why my mother and I have problems. She wants a friend, but I need a mom. At some point I realized arguing with her was entirely pointless (and took a new look at the things my dad had been putting up with), so I just minimize contact.

          I feel bad for her, but I also value the fact that I can use the lesson in raising my kids. It is NOT my goal to have created friends. If it happens, that is a real joy, but it isn’t a given. And kids don’t thrive when they’re given free reins. They’re thrilled in the short term, but they aren’t set up with a solid foundation for the long term.

      • Who?

        It’s like the people who have a baby in an effort to prop up their marriage.

        If two functioning adults can’t make it work, introducing a demanding, needy third party with no boundaries isn’t going to help!

    • Reminds me of Kate “Maybe my third child will help me like my c-section daughter more” Tietje.

    • Gene

      I was going to post the EXACT sentiment. The baby’s job is to heal the mother??? Baby’s job is to live. Mother’s job is to facilitate that. Nothing more. Anything else is window dressing.

    • This. All of this.

  • MovingOn

    Oh god, the “healing birth” nonsense. If I had a dollar for every time I read a “healing birth” story on some birth trauma forum I’d be rich enough to have an elective c-section in the most expensive part of the US.

    I get how she feels. I’ve only had one baby, but I get the idea of a “healing birth” because my son’s birth was so difficult and traumatic. The birth experience IS important, but the idea of what a good experience is ridiculously exclusive. The idea of a “healing birth” is one cooked up by the NCB industry to further sink their claws into traumatized, vulnerable women who have had high-intervention births. It’s truly disgusting what these birth trauma groups do to us. We need evidence-based, peer-reviewed care, from obstetricians, nurse midwives, and counselors who are familiar with childbirth- but instead birth trauma groups are typically run by doulas, lay midwives, ICAN chapter leaders, and mothers who are still feeling the effects of trauma. Medical professionals are not welcome and there are no real counselors, especially any who specialize in postpartum mental health and trauma.

    The only good thing about these birth trauma groups is that they are the few safe spaces we have to be “ungrateful,” but instead of giving us the closure we need, we’re encouraged to further feel guilty and our senses of failure are only reinforced so we can hire doulas and lay midwives and buy herbal bullshit to “speed up” and even INDUCE labor (but inducing labor is bad when a doctor does it with a safe and proven synthetic hormone? really?)

    But the many, many cons of birth trauma support groups way outweigh the pros.

    • Madtowngirl

      “The idea of a “healing birth” is one cooked up by the NCB industry to further sink their claws into traumatized, vulnerable women who have had high-intervention births”

      100% this. Like a lot of other woo bullshit, these people prey on pain and desperation. It’s gross, and what traumatized and vulnerable people need is support, therapy, and/or appropriate care. I loathe movements/businesses/people that prey on vulnerability.

      • MovingOn

        I suspect this is why the author of the Scary Mommy article is still upset four years later. She might have undiagnosed or incredibly poorly treated PTSD. I too have PTSD and my son’s birth two years ago still affects me. I have sympathy for her, but there are so many ways to give birth, and even a high-intervention birth can be a beautiful one. But the definition of a “healing birth” is so incredibly narrow that it doesn’t leave room for even being at a hospital, and a “healing birth” is absolutely the shittiest way imaginable to treat PTSD. Can you imagine telling war veteran that his “shell shock” will be healed if he goes back to the most violent and dangerous parts of Iraq or Afghanistan and has a “healing battle,” with no armor or cover to protect them, no kit to save them, and no gun? Absolute insanity.

        • Maybe she does have PTSD, but that isn’t how her post reads. “I sobbed watching others have a homebirth” sounds more like my 3-year-old when he didn’t get to open his sister’s presents.

          • MovingOn

            No, the jealousy is real. It’s not rational or healthy, but it’s real. It’s a very common response for those of us who have had traumatic births. It’s because of the stupidly widespread myth that birth is inherently safe and only rarely needs any intervention. It skews everyone’s perspectives on birth, leading to us believing (incorrectly, of course) that we’re completely alone and are the very rare failures who shouldn’t have had kids or survived having them. It’s sick, but it’s a result of NCB trash going mainstream, not being an overgrown toddler.

            (in my defense, all of the women who had the easy vaginal births would turn right around and tell me that my c-section was unnecessary and unavoidable and I basically deserved all the suffering I got. They never once considered that the reason I was so upset about the birth-policing to begin with was because I was suffering from PTSD… then again, if they did know that, their tunes wouldn’t change at all. Fuck these people.)

            This is why proper care is so important after such a trauma, not joining bullshit “support groups” that have no interest in anyone actually getting better. She could have been properly educated and prepared for a hospital birth with the interventions she needed, but instead these assholes took advantage of her pain and trauma and convinced her to do something risky for their gain. She was set up to fail. All of the women in these groups are.

            Does it seem over-the-top? oh yes. The feelings are real and valid, but are only fueled and encouraged in these groups because… well, there are no therapists to be found. So they just fester and become more and more toxic and the posts are all over-the-top. That’s why I ended up leaving.

          • Mel

            Those super-easy vaginal birth ladies – give ’em 30 years. My mom’s on her third pelvic floor reconstruction after three “not bad” labors. Her mom had a uterine prolapse exit her vagina in her seventies. Her labors were so fast that her second daughter was born in the back seat of the car. The female reproductive tract has a long memory….

            My OB was thoughtfully informing me that I was a never-VBAC in the hours before my son was born by classic vertical incision C-section and she was so clearly letting me have room for my feelings including negative ones. I was touched by her kindness and care for my feelings…but my feelings were a bit different.

            She was visibly stunned when I chirped “So every storm does have a silver lining! Whoo-hoo!”

            I gave her half a second to adjust then added “I’ll take C-sections over pelvic floor repairs. My female ancestors survived childbirth by having pelvic floors with the tensile strength of wet tissue paper and the last two generations have met very nice urogynecologists who built new pelvic floors post menopause. I’m ok with trying a different path.”

          • MovingOn

            My son had a giant head, so I’m thankful for C-sections. I just wish mine went a whole lot better than it did. Letting go of the notion that it had to be “necessary” (it was after failure to progress after two days of induced labor, which apparently “isn’t a thing”) helped me heal a lot. As hard as recovery was and still is even 2 years after I’m glad I don’t have to deal with tearing, incontinence, and a completely knackered pelvic floor.

          • Mel

            Man, I would have sprained my eyes from rolling them so hard if someone told me that failure to progress “isn’t a thing”.

            It’s a thing. It’s a thing that can be demonstrated on a partograph if the person can’t visualize “the cervix isn’t dilating and the baby’s not descending because of the baby’s position, the amount of give in the mom’s pelvis, the strength of the contractions, the amount of physiological reserve in the baby and placenta and a million other possible factors” in their head.

            Stalled and obstructed labor is all_over_the historical record when women wrote other women about friends who were in labor for days before dying without the baby being born.

            Pre-e and HELLP syndrome – the rare pregnancy complication that tried to kill me and my son – is also all over the historical record; it just looked like women who started having “fits” for hours or days on either side of giving birth and died from bleeding or sudden maternal collapse.

            Whoever decided that denial and ignorance = protection from pregnancy complications has far too many dead bodies on their hands for me to trust them with anything – including friendship.

    • Mel

      Giving birth can be freaking terrifying even if you have the magical vaginal homebirth.

      Giving birth can be surprisingly non-traumatic even if it’s a 26 emergent C-section that everyone is planning will involve one or more blood transfusions for the mom followed by a stay in the ICU.

      I found the magic vaginal homebirth mythos naive and disturbing before I had my son. Now, the same mythos pisses me off because while I’ve had lots of unpleasant emotions around his birth “missing out” on a vaginal birth isn’t a thing for me.

      The important part moving forward is getting help for women who have experienced trauma while helping minimize trauma for women in the future. The important difference in determining which women need extra help and support is whether the woman feels traumatized not did she have a medically uncomplicated vaginal birth.

      People who can’t see that difference are just getting in the way of the people who want to help women.

      • guest

        Thank you for this.

      • MaineJen

        Yes. I found late-stage contractions terrifying! Labor is kinda scary.

    • Merrie

      Yeah, it’s a nice thought to think that your next birth will go better if your previous birth was tough. And maybe it will. But expecting any particular thing out of it is just dippy.

      I certainly hoped to not have retained placenta in my third birth, after having to have a manual placenta extraction with my second one. Thankfully, it did not happen again. But I didn’t hang a bunch of personal emotional involvement on it because, you know, stuff happens.

    • guest

      Oh yeah, dude, I was freaking out at her line about using black and blue cohosh tinctures and then nursing her baby. That stuff is crazy toxic and difficult to dose. It was even a discussion point in my pharmacology classes.

      That tells me right there that the midwife or doula or whoever gave her those tinctures has no idea what she is doing.

  • These are medical decisions to rob women of the opportunity to make a truly informed choice about them is to ignore women as people. The treatment of maternal choice moms in many hospitals is beyond the pale. I applaud every OB, hospital, and anesthetist who goes above and beyond to respect and support maternal choice cesarean. They are heroes.

  • Cartman36

    My OB asked me at my 6 week appointment for child # 3 if I was sad that I didn’t expierience vaginal birth. NOPE! I never even knew I was supposed to have a birth “expierence” or breastfeeding “journey”. I just wanted kids.

    OT but seriously, do people not know that neanderthals knew better than to give birth in water? There is nothing “natural” about giving birth in a kiddie pool in your living room.

    • MaineJen

      I always tell my friends who’ve had c sections: You didn’t miss much. You’re going to end up with stitches either way…it’s just a matter of where they are.

    • Mel

      The cows on the farm adore bodies of water in spite of the fact that standing water is not good for any part of a milking cow.

      And yet we’ve never had one give birth in standing water. Ever. Even when they have the option.

    • Mel

      You’ve probably heard my story of my OB kindly explaining I was a never-VBAC a while before my son was born at 26 weeks and she was so clearly ok with me expressing disappointment.

      She was visibly thrown by my “So every storm has a silver lining!” response.

      Look, my female relatives have two things in common: easy vaginal births followed by massive pelvic floor repairs post menopause. Like the options are multiple surgeries or your uterus falls out at some point at which point you get a bigger surgery. We have pelvic floors with the tensile strength of wet tissue paper – or maybe we’ve just got the most lax muscles ever – I dunno the biomechanics – but I was totally happy at having a “Get out of jail free” card to avoid vaginal births.

    • Allie

      “There is nothing “natural” about giving birth in a kiddie pool in your living room.”

      Too true. Mind you, I support the cake and champagne idea : )

  • demodocus

    Explore your feelings until you decide to do what I think you should do!

  • namaste

    Silly me….I thought the whole point of childbirth was….y’know, to get the kid, ideally after deciding after a lot of thought and consideration that one wants said kid in their life and that raising him/her to adulthood will bring fulfillment. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isnt the point of having a baby to form a loving connection with another human being? If so, WHO GIVES A SHIT about the process? Honestly, who in their right mind holds their baby and thinks “Hooray! I shoved you out my snatch!” rather than “Hooray/Oh fuck! I get to spend the rest of my life with you/I have no clue how to keep you alive, and I am overjoyed/scared shitless!” Can someone explain this to me?

    • namaste

      Oh, and one more thing: I don’t hear anybody suggesting to the guys that ejaculation is “What your body is made for!” as though it’s the end-all be-all of masculine existence. (Though, to be fair, a premium is placed on the ability to get it up.)

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I don’t hear anybody suggesting to the guys that ejaculation is “What your body is made for!” as though it’s the end-all be-all of masculine existence.

        There are, though, some weird ejaculation fetishes in some cultures. For example, I remember seeing a documentary that showed a shrine in Japan that was made of all these phallus statues that shot water out of them like a water fountain, except in spurts.

        At least I THINK it was water….

        Then again, things like that are weird.

        • Allie

          There are many Hindu temples in India with lingam statues, that are basically phallic symbols. They put milk on them. I believe the milk is also sacred, and obviously it’s about fertility and abundance. Kinda cool, actually. We could all stand to be a bit less uptight about the birds and bees.

          • Amazed

            The Cern Abbas Giant comes to mind… As far as I know, after all the mowing and cleaning that he had been subjected to over the years, his… err phalic symbol elongated past the dreams of every man on this planet. Of course, the giant himself is slightly longer than every man. In fact, not so slightly.

        • Mari

          Was that the origin of bukkake?

      • Zornorph

        I make sperm. What’s your superpower?

    • Well, I can see being traumatized after hours of agonizing, unrelieved pain, maybe topped off with an emergency cesarean or instrumental delivery, or some hemorrhaging, and the baby almost dies (or does die). That WOULD suck greatly.

      • namaste

        Point taken. I’m not referring to people who are traumatized because something went majorly pear-shaped or they were denied pain relief. I’m talking about people, such as the woman above, who are in a snit because “Their” births didn’t go exactly as they had pictured it, but everybody came out healthy at the end of the day.

        • mostlyclueless

          Ok, but let’s place the blame where it belongs: on the industry/culture that made that woman feel like her birth was a failure. Not on her for having those feelings.

          Dr. Amy has made the analogy to the beauty industry before. If you see a woman starving herself and feeling ashamed of her perfectly normal, healthy, functional body, don’t dismiss her very real suffering as “a snit.” Criticize the culture and industries that created unrealistic expectations and valorize unhealthy and dangerous ideals.